Queensland’s population increased by around 107,000 people in 2009, according to new ABS population data released last Thursday (this Queensland Treasury briefing note contains the relevant figures). At the end of 2009, our population stood at just over 4.47 million, or around 20% of Australia’s total population of 22.16 million.
In 2009, among the states and territories, Queensland’s population grew at the second fastest clip (2.4%), trailing only WA (2.7%). Unlike in the 1990s, when Queensland’s population surged due to interstate migration from the “rust belt states” of NSW and Victoria, this time Queensland’s population growth is driven largely by immigration from overseas (technically, net overseas migration: i.e., people coming to Australia less people leaving). Of Queensland’s total 2009 population growth of 107,000, net overseas migration was 53,000 (50%), natural increase (births minus deaths) was 40,000 (37%), and interstate migration was 14,000 (13%).
Overall, in 2009, Australia’s population grew at 2.0%, with Victoria growing at 2.1% and NSW at 1.6%. NSW’s performance wasn’t helped by it losing nearly 14,000 people through interstate migration in 2009. Victoria, by contrast, gained around 1,800 people from interstate migration, reversing the long-standing trend of it losing people to other states.
To keep things in perspective, the population growth rate is expected to decline over the next few decades. The Commonwealth Treasury and the Queensland Treasury project the annual population growth for both Australia and Queensland will decline to under 1% per annum by 2050. By then, Australia’s population will be around 36 million and Queensland’s population will be around 7.5 million. These numbers themselves pose large challenges for infrastructure provision and environmental sustainability, so perhaps it is for the best that population growth will start to slow in coming years.